Latvia extends COVID-19 emergency rules until Feb. 7

RIGA, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Latvia has extended its state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic until Feb. 7, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins told reporters Tuesday.

The extension of the emergency rules, including a night curfew at weekends, as well as restrictions on retail trade, public gatherings, indoor sports and certain services, was agreed upon during a joint meeting of cabinet ministers and the Crisis Management Commission.

Karins said that the state of emergency, effective in Latvia since Nov. 9, has to remain in place even though the infection rate has finally started showing signs of stabilization this week.

The prime minister stressed that the aim is not to stabilize but reduce the COVID-19 incidence, adding that Latvia's hospitals are still overcrowded with coronavirus patients.

However, schoolchildren's extended winter holidays will end and distance learning will resume on Jan. 25.

Health Minister Daniels Pavluts said at the news conference that at this point there is still no reason to talk about relaxing restrictions, as Latvia's cumulative 14-day COVID-19 incidence remains high, at 689 cases per 100,000 population, and the saturation of hospital beds is critical.

The health minister indicated that the 14-day COVID-19 incidence must be brought down to some 200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants before any relaxation of restrictions can be considered.

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